Ted Cassidy

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Ted Cassidy
Ted Cassidy.jpg
Ted Cassidy pictured right, and left in character as Lurch in the TV sitcom The Addams Family .
Theodore Crawford Cassidy

(1932-07-31)July 31, 1932
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJanuary 16, 1979(1979-01-16) (aged 46)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Stetson University
Years active1964–1979
Home town Philippi, West Virginia
Height206 cm (6 ft 9 in)
Margaret Helen Jesse
(m. 1956;div. 1975)

Theodore Crawford Cassidy (July 31, 1932 – January 16, 1979) was an American actor of radio, television and film and voice artist. [1] [2] Noted for his tall stature at 6 ft 9 in (206 cm) [3] and his deep bass voice, he tended to play unusual characters in offbeat or science-fiction series such as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie , [1] and is best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. [1] [4] He is also known for narrating The Incredible Hulk TV series.

Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry that follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew. It later acquired the retronym of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) to distinguish the show within the media franchise that it began.

<i>I Dream of Jeannie</i> television series

I Dream of Jeannie is an American fantasy sitcom starring Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie and Larry Hagman as an astronaut who becomes her master, with whom she falls in love and eventually marries. Produced by Screen Gems, the show originally aired from September 18, 1965 to May 26, 1970 with new episodes, and through September 1970 with season repeats, on NBC. The show ran for five seasons and produced 139 episodes.

Lurch (<i>The Addams Family</i>) character in The Addams Family

Lurch is a fictional character created by American cartoonist Charles Addams as a manservant to The Addams Family. In the original television series, Lurch was played by Ted Cassidy, who used the famous catchphrase, "You rang?".


Early life and career

Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but raised in Philippi, West Virginia. In his youth, Cassidy was an academically gifted individual and attended third grade at age six. [1] During his freshman year of high school, at age 11, Cassidy was on the football and basketball teams. [3] Despite this, he was a frequent target of bullying by his much older peers, having already reached a height of 6 ft 1 in (185 cm). [1]

Pittsburgh City in western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and is the county seat of Allegheny County. As of 2017, a population of 305,704 lives within the city limits, making it the 63rd-largest city in the U.S. The metropolitan population of 2,353,045 is the largest in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, and the 26th-largest in the U.S.

Pennsylvania State of the United States of America

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

Philippi, West Virginia City in West Virginia, United States

Philippi is a city in — and the county seat of — Barbour County, West Virginia, USA. The population was 2,966 at the 2010 census. In 1861, the city was the site of the Battle of Philippi, known as "The Philippi Races". Although a minor skirmish, this is considered the earliest notable land action of the American Civil War.

After graduating from high school, Cassidy attended West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, where he was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. He transferred to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, [5] where he played college basketball for the Hatters and was active in the student government. [6]

West Virginia Wesleyan College

West Virginia Wesleyan College is a private, coeducational, liberal arts college in Buckhannon, West Virginia, United States. It has an enrollment of about 1,400 students from 35 U.S. states and 26 countries. The school was founded in 1890 by the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist church.

Buckhannon, West Virginia City in West Virginia, United States

Buckhannon is the only incorporated city in, and the county seat of, Upshur County, West Virginia, United States, and is located along the Buckhannon River. The population was 5,639 at the 2010 census. Buckhannon is home to West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, held annually on the third week of May. The city is located 115 miles northeast from the capital city of Charleston and 140 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Alpha Sigma Phi North American collegiate fraternity

Alpha Sigma Phi (ΑΣΦ), commonly known as Alpha Sig, is a collegiate men's secret and social fraternity with 180 currently active chapters. Founded at Yale in 1845, it is the 10th oldest fraternity in the United States.

After graduating with a degree in speech and drama, he married Margaret Helen in 1956, and they moved to Dallas, Texas. His acting career took off when he worked as a mid-day disc jockey on WFAA in Dallas. He also occasionally appeared on WFAA-TV Channel 8, playing Creech, an outer space creature on the "Dialing for Dollars" segments on Ed Hogan's afternoon movies. He gave an in-studio report from WFAA radio station on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, [7] and was among the first to interview eyewitnesses W. E. Newman, Jr. and Gayle Newman. [8]

Dallas City in Texas, United States

Dallas, officially the City of Dallas, is a city in the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Dallas County, with portions extending into Collin, Denton, Kaufman and Rockwall counties. With an estimated 2017 population of 1,341,075, it is the ninth most-populous city in the U.S. and third in Texas after Houston and San Antonio. It is also the eighteenth most-populous city in North America as of 2015. Located in North Texas, the city of Dallas is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States and the largest inland metropolitan area in the U.S. that lacks any navigable link to the sea. It is the most populous city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country at 7.3 million people as of 2017. The city's combined statistical area is the seventh-largest in the U.S. as of 2017, with 7,846,293 residents.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Disc jockey person who plays recorded music for an audience

A disc jockey, often abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays existing recorded music for a live audience. Most common types of DJs include radio DJ, club DJ who performs at a nightclub or music festival and turntablist who uses record players, usually turntables, to manipulate sounds on phonograph records. Originally, the disc in disc jockey referred to gramophone records, but now DJ is used as an all-encompassing term to describe someone who mixes recorded music from any source, including cassettes, CDs or digital audio files on a CDJ or laptop. The title DJ is commonly used by DJs in front of their real names or adopted pseudonyms or stage names. In recent years it has become common for DJs to be featured as the credited artist on tracks they produced despite having a guest vocalist that performs the entire song: like for example Uptown Funk.


Cassidy as Tarzan with Cheeta for the children's game show Storybook Squares, 1969 Ted Cassidy Cheeta Storybook Squares 1969.JPG
Cassidy as Tarzan with Cheeta for the children's game show Storybook Squares , 1969

Cassidy's notable height gave him an advantage in auditioning for unusual character roles. [3] His most famous role was Lurch on The Addams Family (in which he feigned playing the harpsichord). [9] He also played the character named Thing, while associate producer Jack Voglin would take over the "Thing" role in scenes with both characters. Though the character of Lurch was intended to be mute, Cassidy ad-libbed his signature line, "You rang?" The subtle humor and the deepness of his voice was immediately a hit. Thereafter, it was a recurring phrase written into the script. [10]

<i>The Addams Family</i> (1964 TV series) 1964 TV series

The Addams Family is an American television series based on the characters from Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. The 30-minute series was created by David Levy and Donald Saltzman and shot in black-and-white, airing for two seasons on ABC from September 18, 1964, to April 8, 1966, for a total of 64 episodes. It is often compared to its CBS rival, The Munsters, which ran for the same two seasons and achieved somewhat higher Nielsen ratings. The show is also notable for its opening theme that was composed by Vic Mizzy.

Harpsichord musical instrument played by means of a keyboard

A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard which activates a row of levers that in turn trigger a mechanism that plucks one or more strings with a small plectrum.

Thing T. Thing, often referred to as just Thing, is a fictional character in The Addams Family series. Thing was originally conceived as a whole creature that was too horrible to see in person. The only part of it that was tolerable was its human hand. The Addamses called it "Thing" because it was something that could not be identified. Thing was changed to a disembodied hand for the 1991 and 1993 Addams Family movies.

Cassidy would reprise the role of Lurch in later appearances. In the Batman episode "The Penguin's Nest" (1966), he appears during Batman and Robin's familiar climb scene up the side of a building, as a tenant who is playing the harpsichord prior to sticking his head out of the window and speaking to Batman and Robin. He also voiced this character in an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972), which featured the family, as well as in the 1973 animated series adaptation of The Addams Family .

<i>Batman</i> (TV series) 1960s American television series

Batman is a 1960s American live action television series, based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It stars Adam West as Bruce Wayne / Batman and Burt Ward as Dick Grayson / Robin – two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City from a variety of arch villains. It is known for its camp style, upbeat theme music, and its intentionally humorous, simplistic morality. This included championing the importance of using seat belts, doing homework, eating vegetables, and drinking milk. It was described by executive producer William Dozier as the only situation comedy on the air without a laugh track. The 120 episodes aired on the ABC network for three seasons from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968, twice weekly for the first two and weekly for the third. In 2016, television critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz ranked Batman as the 82nd greatest American television show of all time.

<i>The New Scooby-Doo Movies</i> television series

The New Scooby-Doo Movies is an American animated mystery comedy television series produced by Hanna-Barbera for CBS. It is the second animated television series in the studio's Scooby-Doo franchise, and follows the first incarnation, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. It premiered on September 9, 1972 and ran for two seasons on CBS as the only hour-long Scooby-Doo series. Twenty-four episodes were produced, sixteen for the 1972–73 season and eight more for the 1973–74 season.

In addition to The Addams Family, Cassidy found steady work in a variety of other television shows. [7] He had a prominent role on NBC's The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as Injun Joe, the blood-foe of Tom Sawyer and Huck. In the 1967 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Napoleon's Tomb Affair", Cassidy played a henchman, Edgar, who kidnaps, tortures, and repeatedly tries to kill Napoleon and Illya.

Cassidy also provided the voices of the more aggressive version of Balok in the Star Trek episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" and the Gorn in the episode "Arena", and played the part of the android Ruk in the episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?". Cassidy did more work with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the early 1970s, playing Isaiah in the post-apocalyptic drama pilots Genesis II and Planet Earth . In the Lost in Space episode, "The Thief from Outer Space", he played the "Slave" to the alien "Thief" (Malachi Throne) who threatens the Robinsons.

In The Beverly Hillbillies episode "The Dahlia Feud" from 1967, he played Mr. Ted, a large, muscular gardener who was planting dahlias for Mrs. Drysdale. In 1968, Cassidy appeared on Mannix in the episode "To Kill a Writer" as Felipe Montoya, on Daniel Boone in "The Scrimshaw Ivory Chart" as a pirate named Gentle Sam, and in episodes of I Dream of Jeannie : as the master of Jeannie's devious sister in the episode "Genie, Genie, Who's Got the Genie?", and Jeannie's cousin in the episode "Please Don't Feed the Astronauts".

In the two-part The Six Million Dollar Man episode "The Return of Bigfoot" (1976), Cassidy appeared as "Bigfoot" (the role was originally played by professional wrestler André the Giant in a previous two-parter). He even provided the vocal effects for Bigfoot. Cassidy reprised the role in the 1977 episode "Bigfoot V."

Voice acting and film work

Concurrent with his appearances on The Addams Family , Cassidy began doing character voices on a recurring basis for the Hanna-Barbera Studios, culminating in the role of Frankenstein, Jr. in Frankenstein, Jr. and The Impossibles series. He was the voice of Meteor Man in Birdman and the Galaxy Trio , as well as the hero in the Chuck Menville pixillated short film Blaze Glory , in which his already-deep voice was enhanced with reverb echo to give the character an exaggerated super-hero sound. Cassidy also voiced Ben Grimm (a.k.a. "The Thing") in The New Fantastic Four . Cassidy went on to perform the roars and growls for Godzilla in the 1979 cartoon series that Hanna Barbera co-produced with Toho; and was also the voice of Montaro in the Jana of the Jungle segments that accompanied Godzilla during its first network run. His was the basis for the sinister voice of Black Manta, as well as Brainiac and several others on Super Friends . Cassidy was the original voice of Moltar and Metallus on Space Ghost from 1966 to 1968. Indeed, Cassidy's final role was as King Thun of the Lion Men in the Filmation television animated feature film, Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All . That particular role was originally recorded shortly before Cassidy's death in 1979 until the decision was made to use the footage for a television series, The New Adventures of Flash Gordon . As such, Cassidy's death necessitated his role being recast for the series with Allan Melvin. After the series' conclusion, the original feature film and soundtrack were reassembled and broadcast in prime time in 1982 with Cassidy's performance used.

After The Addams Family, Cassidy began to add more voice work to his résumé; in that acting field, most notably, he narrated the opening of the TV series The Incredible Hulk . Cassidy also provided the Hulk's growls and roars during the show's first two seasons.

In deleted scenes from the original Battlestar Galactica TV pilot movie, "Saga of a Star World" (on the DVD collection Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series [1978]), Cassidy can be heard providing temporary voice tracks of the Cylon Imperious Leader, before actor Patrick Macnee was contracted to voice the character.

Other film work included his appearances in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Mackenna's Gold (1969), The Limit (1972), Charcoal Black (1972), The Slams (1973), Thunder County (1974), Poor Pretty Eddie (1975), Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976), The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977) and Goin' Coconuts (1978). He also co-wrote the screenplay of 1973's The Harrad Experiment , in which he made a brief appearance.

In 1965, he released a seven-inch vinyl record on Capitol Records with two songs on it: "The Lurch", written by Gary S. Paxton, and "Wesley", written by Cliffie Stone and Scott Turner. [11] He introduced the dance and performed the song "The Lurch" on September 11, 1965 on Shivaree! and performed it again on Halloween of the same year on Shindig! [12]


Cassidy underwent surgery at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles to have a non-malignant tumor removed from his heart. While recovering at home, complications arose several days later and he was readmitted. On January 16, 1979, Cassidy died at age 46 at St. Vincent Medical Center. [13] [14]


1959 The Angry Red Planet MartianVoice, Uncredited
1969 Mackenna's Gold Hachita
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Harvey Logan
1972The LimitBig Donnie
1972 Charcoal Black Striker
1973 The Harrad Experiment Diner PatronUncredited
1973 The Slams Glover
1974The Great Lester Boggs
1974Thunder CountyCabrini
1975The Intruder
1975 Poor Pretty Eddie Keno
1976 Harry and Walter Go to New York Leary
1977 The Last Remake of Beau Geste Blindman
1978 Goin' Coconuts Mickey


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Ted Cassidy". The New York Times . Archived from the original on January 18, 2014.
  2. "Ted Cassidy, Lurch in TV Series". The New York Times. January 24, 1979.
  3. 1 2 3 "Ted Cassidy Biography - Television Actor (1932–1979)". biography.com.
  4. "From Stetson gym to TV stage". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. October 4, 1964. p. 12, All Florida.
  5. Plaisted, Ed (March 22, 1995). "Ex-coach remembers Stetson days when 'Lurch' played basketball". The Volusian. Florida. p. 1B.
  6. "Stetson University". 1955 Hatter (Yearbook). Archived from the original on 2013-04-09.
  7. 1 2 Heimer, Mel (August 16, 1967). "'Lurch' moves on, 'Injun Joe' soon". Bryan Times. Ohio. King Features Syndicate. p. 5.
  8. "JFK's Assassination (11/22/63) (WFAA-Radio; Dallas)". YouTube, appearance first at 0:43:05 and intermittent to end of clip.
  9. According to the Addams Family, Season 1, Volume 1 DVD of the original TV series, music composer Vic Mizzy states that Lurch is playing on a dead keyboard, and despite Cassidy being an accomplished organist), Mizzy played all the parts. This is shown in the Snap Snap special feature.
  10. "Ted Cassidy, You Rang?". Legacy.com.
  11. "Ted Cassidy: The Lurch/Wesley". Discogs.
  12. Foote, Ken (May 19, 2017). "The Foote Files: Remembering Ted Cassidy". CBS.
  13. "Ted Cassidy's death almost unreported". The Hour . Norwalk, Connecticut. UPI. January 24, 1979. p. 6.
  14. "Deaths elsewhere: Ted Cassidy". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. January 24, 1979. p. 12.
Preceded by
Actors portraying Moltar
Succeeded by
C. Martin Croker
Preceded by
Actors portraying Metallus
Succeeded by
Michael Tew